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Two men told they face prison for trying to rob Co Down Chinese takeaway Peking Garden with a toy gun

By John Cassidy

Published 17/08/2016

Mark Flanagan (26), of Glenbane Avenue in Newtownabbey, and Wayne Hunter (25), from York Park in Belfast, pleaded guilty to attempted robbery and possession of a firearm with intent to commit a robbery
Mark Flanagan (26), of Glenbane Avenue in Newtownabbey, and Wayne Hunter (25), from York Park in Belfast, pleaded guilty to attempted robbery and possession of a firearm with intent to commit a robbery

Two men who tried to hold up a Chinese takeaway with a toy gun but were chased off by staff have been warned they face long jail sentences.

Mark Flanagan (26), of Glenbane Avenue in Newtownabbey, and Wayne Hunter (25), from York Park in Belfast, pleaded guilty to attempted robbery and possession of a firearm with intent to commit a robbery.

Hunter also pleaded guilty to possession of five bags of herbal cannabis found in a flat following his arrest.

Sam Magee, prosecuting, told Downpatrick Crown Court that the offences were committed on June 25 last year at the Peking Garden takeaway outlet on Green Road in Conlig, Co Down.

Judge Piers Grant heard staff noticed the two men walk past the shop before returning to rob it around 10pm.

Both men, who were known to workers, wore masks in a bid to hide their faces.

The prosecutor said Hunter entered the premises and held "a police-like gun at shoulder height" within two metres of a takeaway employee.

The court heard he then placed a white bag on the counter and shouted: "Put the f***ing money in the bag."

Mr Magee said counter staff shouted that police were coming, after which Hunter and Flanagan ran from the shop empty-handed.

The pair fled the area, but were pursued by staff and members of the public.

"They tried to scale a fence but failed, and Mr Hunter lost his shoe in the process," the prosecutor told the court. Hunter was arrested at around 10.30pm and Flanagan a short time later.

Police recovered a white mask containing blood that matched Hunter's DNA. A dark mask with a UDA emblem was a match for Flanagan. The recovered firearm turned out to be a toy gun.

Hunter has 11 previous convictions and at the time of the robbery bid was the subject of a four-month sentence suspended for three years.

Flanagan, meanwhile, has previous convictions for assault and disorderly behaviour.

In mitigation, defence barrister Conor Holmes told the hearing: "Mr Hunter has shown genuine and real remorse for his actions.

"He is ashamed of his actions and the impact this had on the people involved. He fully accepts that he is going to prison for these offences."

Accepting that the attempted robbery was a "terrifying experience" for staff, barrister Conan Rea asked the court to treat father-of-three Flanagan as a "secondary offender" and not as the man who went into the takeaway with the imitation firearm.

He told the court that the robbery bid was "not pre-planned and no violence or physical harm was used against anybody".

Mr Rea added: "They were always going to get caught and convicted for these offences."

Judge Piers Grant adjourned sentencing, but he warned Hunter and Flanagan: "Significant custodial sentences will be imposed, of that there should be no doubt."

Both were remanded in custody to be sentenced on Friday.

Belfast Telegraph

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